The leadership of the U.S. Army has locked arms and is advancing like the proverbial phalanx on a single objective: to make that service's acquisition system faster and more effective. Rather than take the usual incremental approach to change, they are going big and bold. Even if only a partial success, the reform effort should produce an Army acquisition system that is speedier, more agile, less costly and more likely to produce better outcomes.
As described by Army Secretary Mark Esper in recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the reform effort consists of five interrelated initiatives: establishing a Futures Command; streamlining and improving ongoing acquisition activities such as contracting, sustainment and testing; creating cross functional teams (CFTs) focused on rapidly defining requirements for programs that address the Army's six modernization priorities; refocusing science and technology priorities and investment; and changing oversight and decision making related to major acquisition programs. The Army hopes that just by using CFTs it can reduce the time needed to develop requirements from 60 or more months to 12 or less. The overall goal, according to Secretary Esper, is to shorten the acquisition cycle to between 5 and 7 years.